CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Last Ride: Golarion's Horsemen

It’s Saturday and it's time to talk about a god. For those of you who haven’t been a part of my explorations into the religions of Golarion, here’s how it works:

Imagine, if you will, you're making a character for a group. Your only instruction is that you must be a worshiper of a specific god. You do not need to be a divine casting class, although you can be, but the party’s purpose is working toward the goals of this specific divine being. I'd like, not just a race/class combo, but a little bit about why the character would choose to dedicate themselves to this particular deity. Feel free to make up secret or not-so-secret orders within the church, or even sects outside of the church that you think might be interesting. With only this one piece of information that must be true, let your imagination go wild with the rest.

This week we’re doing a little something different. With all our talk about end-of-the-world prophecies on Wednesday, we’re going to look at the beings who personify the cataclysm and catastrophe that will arise in the final days. The beings that will ride the face of Golarion, turning it into wastes, and reveling in the death and slaughter. We will discuss the anthropomorphized eschaton, the four Horsemen of the Apocalyspe­—and no I don’t mean Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson and Tully Blanchard (Yes, that’s a wrestling reference. I’m a wrestler, so sue me).

Apollyon, The Prince of Locusts – Horseman of Pestilence
Apollyon’s Pathfinder Wiki page 
Apollyon’s Archives of Nethys Entry 

Charon, The Boatman – Horseman of Death
Charon’s Pathfinder Wiki page 

Szuriel, Angel of Desolation – Horseman of War
Szuriel’s Pathfinder Wiki page  

Trelmarixian, The Black – Horseman of Famine
Trelmarixian’s Pathfinder Wiki page 
Trelmarixian’s Archives of Nethys Entry 

Throughout history the horsemen have been depicted in many, many,  mediums. In Good Omens Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett modernized the Horsemen by portraying them as a biker gang. In Piers Anthony’s series Incarnations of Immortality, both Death and War aren’t so much horsemen as they are jobs held by people. Whether evil or just doing their job, the horsemen always bring death and destruction with them.

On Golarion the horsemen are Archdaemons, not to be confused with Demons, and rule over the desolate realm of Abbadon. The title of "Horseman" is transferable and can be usurped by upward-minded daemon harbingers. The positions bring with them power like that of a demigod and the ability to imbue their followers with small portions of this divinity. And with mortal lust for power being what it is, there are those who will flock to worship even these beings who personify their own end.

Although they do not technically have churches, or really any organized faith to speak of, the Horsemen are worshipped by no small number of creatures on Golarion. Some pay them their due out of fear of their own mortality. Others are hate-filled monsters who want nothing less than the total destruction of the world to ease their own pain. We're going to explore those who willfully dedicate themselves to the worship of these foul Archedaemons and comprise their dread cults.


The cults of the horsemen of pestilence usually come from the ranks of those who have either lost someone they love to, or themselves suffered from, the ravages of a foul disease. These demented souls are so full of hatred and anger that they turn to Apollyon and pray for him to inflict upon others the same illness they have been stricken with. Necromancers fascinated with diseases, plague born sorcerers and witches are very common among the worshipers of the Archdaemon of disease.

These cults tend to use sewers as their base of operations in larger cities. They often ally with wererats, or more rarely they become lycanthropes themselves in order to better spread the word, the will, and the plagues of their master. In some dark corners one might hear whispered rumors of a gathering of ghasts and ghouls who seek to serve Apollyon with the spread of their fevered, diseased touch.


Death is death. Whether the cause be disease, war, or famine, it’s all still death and all things living will eventually find themselves in Charon’s icy embrace. Charon’s main sphere of influence, however, is death by old age. Many of his supplicants have lost a loved one who has been ravaged by the passage of long, hard years. Some have seen their children perish before them and, in their bitterness, wish a similar pain upon others. Almost all seek to find a way to lengthen their stay on Golarion, and undeath is one of the most common routes to this goal.

One of Charon’s largest cults is actually a group of forlorn elves. Born into a world with few of their kind, they’re forced to watch the shorter-lived races around them die. Watching generations of humans wither away was not easy on them. Even with the return of their kin, not all of these elves managed to retain their sanity.

Calling themselves “The Ageless”, they are masters of necromancy and alchemy. The elves have a specific focus on accelerating the aging process. They especially love to use their abilities on their kinsmen which returned to Golarion in the Age of Enthronement. Those who did not have to live through death after death must be made to suffer by watching that which they love wither and die before suffering the same fate themselves.


Szuriel’s followers live for the blood and thunder of battle—the bigger the better. Although many of his followers are warfighters themselves; anti-paladins, holy warriors, savage brutes and the like, the Angel of Desolation needs those who can cause wars and not just fight in them. The horseman of war finds followers among the aristocrats, politicians, and diplomats who can force their people onto the battlefield. One misstep of language can cause entire countries to field mass armies, and Szuriel’s followers have a penchant for the misspoken word.

In darkened backrooms, his minions can be found engineering enmity and planning the calendar of carnage. These wealthy warhawks make and spend fortunes trading in the secrets of their homelands to make sure other followers can keep their countries geared up for war. National interests mean nothing to the worshipers of Szuriel, watching their countrymen die in droves elevates both them and their Archdaemon master.


The horsemen of war is not the only one of the Archdaemons whose worshiper base moves outside the realm of cultists. Trelmarixian is considered to be a part of the Kobold pantheon as well as a member of the four horsemen. Although he does still have cults among the more civilized races, his kobold followers could actually be called an organized religion.

Kobolds are known for their ravenous appetites, although perhaps a little less so than goblins, but food is not always readily available for the little dragonmen. In times of great hunger the priests of Trelmarixian urge their brethren to steal food from the more civilized races. This Kobold-made destruction of crops, when allowed to get out of hand, can mimic the effects of a food shortage brought on by drought.

The Kobolds who truly dedicate themselves to Trelmarixian do not consume more than the most basic amounts of food needed to sustain them. The priests are known for their emaciated bodies, ribs showing through dry, cracked, leathery skin. This self-imposed fasting is considered to be a worthy sacrifice for the powers granted by their Archdeamon lord.

Grand Conclaves

On very rare occasion the followers of all four horsemen will gather. These conclaves are often followed by a great period of mass destruction in a region. Plagues of vermin will sweep across the land, crops not eaten by the locusts will wither and die, and the populace will fall to bickering and fighting until no option is left but all-out war. Recent memory hasn’t seen such a thing, but ancient texts suggest that it has happened in the past and the followers of any goodly gods would be wise to remain vigilant for any sign of these apocalyptic grand conclaves. 

And there you have the cults of the four horsemen. Who are your flag bearers of the apocalypse? Death, War, Pestilence or Famine, what character would you make?

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